High intensity exercise (sprints) is more beneficial than the traditional endurance training (marathon) for heart health, suggests research.
"Our research examines the effects of brief, intense exercise when compared to traditional endurance exercise on the markers of CVD in young people," said lead author Duncan Buchan from the University of the West of Scotland.
Buchan's team recruited a group of volunteer school children, forty seven boys and ten girls, and randomly divided the group into moderate (MOD) and high intensity (HIT) exercise teams.
The two groups performed three weekly exercise sessions over 7 weeks. The HIT group's training consisted of a series of 20 meter sprints over 30 seconds. In contrast the MOD group ran steadily for a period of 20 minutes.
The results revealed that both groups demonstrated improved cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. However, the total exercise time over seven weeks was six times higher for the MOD group compared to the HIT group. Thus, significant improvements in CVD risk factors in the HIT group occurred in only 15 pc of the total exercise time.
These findings demonstrate that brief, intense exercise is a time efficient means for improving CVD risk factors in adolescents. Although limited to relatively small samples, the findings demonstrate significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, blood pressure, body composition and insulin resistance in healthy adolescent youth after a 7 week intervention of different exercise intensities.
The study has been published in the American Journal of Human Biology.